yaris
yaris

Toyota Yaris: Sleight of hand

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What is it?

Remember when car ignition keys alone turned the engine on and off, gearboxes were manually operated, clutch pedals were prodded and windows wound up and down by hand?

I recently did a spot of travel back in time in the Yaris Ascent Sport, the compact hatchback from Toyota.

With its eschewing of such modern automated aids, the Yaris Ascent Sport manual, I presume for economic advantages, really is a hands-on vehicle.

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What’s it cost?

At $22,130, plus on-road costs, the car is the entry level to the Yaris line and the only variant featuring a six-speed manual transmission.

The others have a direct shift CVT, which adds just $1500.

A CVT-equipped hybrid on SX and ZR attracts a further $2000 over their equivalent petrol variants.

There are 12 exterior colours.

A sporty exterior boasts a stand-out cascading grille, longer bonnet, sculpted door panels, dynamic character lines and a shorter rear overhang.

The all-new Yaris is shorter and lower than its predecessor, with a longer wheelbase (40mm) for maximum interior space and stability.

Despite the lower roofline, interior headroom is not compromised, the driver and passengers sitting lower thanks to the new Toyota B-platform.

Standard equipment on Ascent Sport includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, LED daytime running lamps, tail and stop lights; auto retractable door mirrors with LED turn signals; and power windows.

Driver information is sourced through a 7-inch touchscreen and a 4.2-inch multi-information display in the instrument cluster.

Bluetooth connectivity includes phone and music. With enhanced voice recognition, there’s access to Sir, Eyes Free, Google Now voice commands.

AM/FM /DAB+ digital radio are in the hands of six speakers, while USB video playback is on offer when the vehicle is stationary.

For the first time on a Toyota vehicle in Australia are ground-breaking safety features, designed to make Yaris the world’s safest compact car.

They include front-centre airbags, sensors that can detect vehicles or pedestrians at intersections when making turns and a secondary collision brake.

Other advanced safety technologies include a pre-collision safety system with autonomous emergency braking, active cruise control, automatic high beam, and technologies to assist with cornering, staying in the intended lane and detecting speed signs.

A reversing camera and a full suite of brake assist and traction-control systems including active cornering assist are also standard.

Eight airbags include driver, front passenger, two front centre, two front side, two curtain shield. The new front-row centre airbags – a first in class – are designed to offer additional protection in a range of accidents.

They can act as energy-absorbing cushions between the driver and front passenger in side crashes, or in passenger-side crashes when the driver is the only occupant. They can also provide safety benefits in rollover accidents.

Ownership costs include a five-year warranty, extendable to seven years, up to 10 years on the hybrid battery and five annual services capped at $195 each.

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What’s it go like?

The new direct-injection three-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol engine’s 88kW and 145Nm forge gains of 10 per cent and 2.7 per cent over the previous 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine, the result of a lighter block and crankshaft, reduced frictional losses and high-speed combustion technology.

The new 1.5-litre petrol engine produces more power and torque – while using less fuel – than the 1.3 and 1.5-litre four-cylinder engines it replaces.

Tagged with the ‘Sport’, engine performance is not all that impressive. High revs are the key otherwise stalling is the downfall.

Toyota claims the new Yaris manual uses just 5.4L/100km. The test car clocked 7.9L/100km while flitting around town and 3.7L/100km on a motorway run.

The little motor was quiet enough at low revs but let out a raspy reply when urged to work higher up the scale.

The manual gear shift at times was not of Toyota’s usual high standards and needed firm handling to avoid connecting with the wrong gear.

On the upside, the new platform underpins a significant increase in body rigidity, which contributes to agility, stable handling, ride comfort and lower noise and vibration.

A 270-litre cargo area incorporates a two-level deck board. Larger items can be accommodated with a 60:40 split-fold rear seat back.

Front door pockets take up to a 1.5-litre bottle, rear door pockets up to a 600 ml bottle.

Ascent Sport has an all-black interior, offering an open, spacious and comfortable cabin with ample headroom and an up-market ambience with high-quality seat fabrics.

Despite a wider centre console, there is no room for an armrest, hence no leaning post for the driver. Gearshift and cup holders take up the space.

However, the new platform allows the driver’s seat to be set lower and further back towards the centre of the car, creating an appealing driving position and helping to lower the vehicle’s centre of gravity by around 15mm.

The steering wheel is set closer to the driver, with wider tilt and telescopic adjustments. Electric steering is tuned for a light feel at low speed and responsive feeling at high speed.

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What we like?

  • Up-market ambience
  • Ground-breaking safety features
  • Front door pockets take up to a 1.5-litre bottle

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What we don’t like?

  • Manual change not up to usual standards

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The bottom line?

Having generally left manual motors behind to the ascendancy of the so smooth automatic transmission, it is interesting to be reminded just how inconvenient shifting gears by hand is in heavy stop/start city traffic.

Spare the gear(rod) and spoil the child, it would seem.

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Toyota Yaris Ascent Sport, priced from $22,130
  • Looks - 7/10
    7/10
  • Performance - 5/10
    5/10
  • Safety - 8/10
    8/10
  • Thirst - 7/10
    7/10
  • Practicality - 6/10
    6/10
  • Comfort - 6/10
    6/10
  • Tech - 7/10
    7/10
  • Value - 7/10
    7/10
Overall
6.6/10
6.6/10

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